Natural Health

Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.

Add to My MSN

Flexing the Biomimicry Muscle

5/10/2005 12:00:00 AM

Tags: biomimicry

This week a friend sent me a link to an article in The Oregonian that rocked my world. “OSU’s new wood glue has muscle inspired by mussels” tells of Oregon State University professor Kaichang Li’s invention, an soy-based adhesive that can be used as a safe replacement for formaldehyde-based glues in plywood and particleboard.

For years, we natural-building types have been warning people about the evils of formaldehyde—a known carcinogen that outgases into the home and can cause a host of nasty health problems. Yet green builders and forestry types also know that wood products such as particleboard—which utilize smaller (read, not old growth) trees and wood scraps—can go a long way toward preserving our forests. Often we’ve been forced to choose between saving the trees or protecting our own health. As the particleboard debate has raged (even within the pages of Natural Home & Garden), I just kept thinking, “There’s got to be a better way.” And now there is—or soon will be.

Columbia Forest Products will stop using formaldehyde and start using the soy-based adhesives in its plywood panels within a year. Brad Thompson of Columbia Forest Products says this is the first cost-competitive formaldehyde-free adhesive to hit the market. Revolution is afoot.

But maybe just as cool is the process through which Professor Li discovered and then created this stuff—an awesome example of Janine Benyus’s biomimicry concept. Li took inspiration from mussels, which use a network of tough silken threads made out of a special protein to secure themselves to rocks and wood pilings—even in the face of massive waves. One day while eating tofu, he realized the ubiquitous soybean contain lots of protein, just like those threads. He put two and two together, and volià! It’s just another great example of how—with a little help from Mother Nature—we can easily create safe, cheap, and healthy ways to live better lives.



Related Content

A Year in the Round: From the Ground Up (Pt. 1)

Settling on a flooring option for the tipi was pretty simple after coming across an awesome company ...

Treat Your Sweetie to a Massage with Homemade Herbal Muscle Rub

The sweet smell and healing properties of bay, eucalyptus and ginger will make your sweetheart's Val...

Engineering a Sustainable World

Engineering is helping to solve some of our biggest environmental challenges. Learn more during EEWe...

2011 Trends: Bamboo, Biomimicry, Green Luxury Cars, Stricter Standards

JWTIntelligence predicts big green changes in the coming year (including tube-free toilet paper).

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 










Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.